President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had a phone conversation with EU Council President Charles Michel yesterday (August 22) about the recent developments in Afghanistan.

Turkey’s primary goal is achieving sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan, as well as the evacuation of its citizens from the Taliban-seized country, Erdoğan told Michel, according to a statement by the Presidency Communications Directorate.

Erdogan said Ankara wants a smooth transition in Afghanistan and if the necessary measures are not taken, adding that if the necessary measures are not taken, the immigration from Afghanistan will increase even more, which will pose a serious challenge for both Turkey and European countries.

The EU should help the Afghan people in Afghanistan and in neighboring countries, especially Iran, he emphasized.

Erdogan said Turkey is already home to at least five million refugees and the country cannot handle an additional « migration burden. »

Mentioning that Turkey received a request from the EU for the acceptance of local personnel, who work for EU’s mission in Afghanistan, to Turkey, he said the member states have opened their doors to only a small portion of the people who had served them.

Posting a message on Twitter, Michel described the Afghanistan issue as « a common challenge for both Turkey and the EU. »

« Full understanding of the need to ensure the safe exit of nationals, local staff and families and to ensure support for vulnerable Afghans and host communities in the region, » he wrote.

Some European countries have suggested designating Turkey as a « third safe country » for refugees coming from Afghanistan. Austria and Belgium said the EU-Turkey deal on Syrian refugees should be expanded to include Afghans.

The defense secretary of the UK said yesterday that they planned to set up an asylum application center in Turkey. The US Department of State also suggested Turkey as an application spot for people who had worked with them in Afghanistan.

Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs dismissed both statements, saying that Ankara had not been approached about the issue.

Erdoğan has made confusing statements about the issue. While saying that Turkey won’t bear the refugee burden for Europe, he has also said they won’t close the doors for refugees.

Thousands of refugees from Afghanistan have crossed into Turkey over the past two months. Turkey is building a wall on its border with Iran to curb irregular migration.

Bianet

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